Chauffeur's Corner

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Sir,

It was with the greatest interest that I read in your admirable “Chauffeur’s Corner” series of Reg Smith and the splendid stable of cars belonging to the Perrins family of Davenham (not Davenhurst), Malvern.

I can add further information about some —indeed, most—of the cars mentioned or portrayed as part of the Perrins stable. The following details were obtained by me some years ago from the registration records of the Worcester City and Borough authorities:

FK 79 20 h.p. Argyll landaulette, dark blue, lined crimson. First registered on 100/1905: transferred to :— 28 h.p. DeInunay-Belleville limousine, dark blue, orange lines, on 28/8/1906 : transferred to :— 40 h.p. White steam car, open and landau bodies, dark blue, yellow lines, on 18/6/1910 to 31/7/1911.

FK 80 12 h.p. Argyll tonneau, dark blue, crimson lined; first registered on 10/5/1905 : transferred to: 20 h.p. Delauriay- Belleville, side entrance, open, dark blue, orange lines on 2415/1906 until 25/1/1913.

FK 139 12 h.p. Arroliohnston tonneau, dark brown; first registered on 21/6/1907 until 19/1/1909.

FK 174 28 h.p. Delaunay-Belleville,. shooting wagonette, brown, black lines, first registered on 7/6/1909. FK 277 26 h.p. Delaunay-Belleville, open, blue. First registered on 1/6/1911 until 9/411914 when transferred to: — 30 h.p. Sheffield-Simplex, touring body, dark blue on 9/4/1914.

FK 307 15 h.p. Naudin-Sizaire (sic), 2 seats, grey. First registered on 78/11/1911.

FK 352 59 h.p. Napier, open touring body, grey, white and black lines, first registered on 18/5/1912.

FK 374 20 h.p. Crossley, 4-seater, grey. First registered on 3/9/1912.

AB 2289 16/20 Sunbeam laundelette, green, first registered on 9/3/1912.

AB 2541 15 h.p. Napier torpedo, green, first registered on 12/7/1912.

The splendid Napier saloon, Reg. No. NH 926 portrayed on the Perrins’ Scottish estate was not a “visiting” car but belonged to the family. It was registered in Northampton because of the circumstance that the Perrins family had a distant connection with Frank Newton, one of Napier’s well-known racing men in the days of Edge, Stocks and Tryon, who had a motor business in Northampton, and the Perrins family, already keen Napier owners, needed no persuasion to buy this particularly exotic example.

For many years while living in Malvern, C. W. Dyson Perrins had made a practice of having their cars serviced by the Malvern Link firm of T. C. Santler, whose business had grown from that of general and electrical engineers, founded in 1875, through the manufacture of cycles to the manufacture on a very small and spasmodic scale of motor cars. Charles Santler claimed to have made his first car as early as 1887, a claim which it is difficult to substantiate conclusively. However, one of his early cars, built in 1896/7 still survives in the ownership, I believe, of Sir John Briscoe. I quote a testimonial from Mr. Dyson Perrins that was included in a series of brochures put out by Santler c.1911. By this time Sander had a fine reputation as a motor engineer:

“Davenham, Malvern. December 6th, 1911.

Dear Sirs,

I am very pleased to be able to say that the work which you have done for me for many years past has always given me the fullest satisfaction, which is mainly due to the personal care you take in whatever is entrusted to you. I can give no better testimonial (except by continuing to give you my work. which I certainly hope to do) than by saying that I have to-day written to the Secretary of the Royal Automobile Club in answer to an official enquiry, and said that I consider you are worthy of the highest certificate which they issue.

I am, Yours Truly,

C. W. Dyson Perrins.”

Mr. Smith has himself a testimonial written on Sander’s headed paper, dated November 1914, which T. C. Sander signed for him prior to his joining the Army.

The Worcester firm of coachbuilders mentioned as having built the very handsome body on one of the Perrins cars were McNaught & Co., Coachbuilders, HarnessMakers, Motor-Car Builders—(note, not McNaughton), [My error, not Mr. Smith’s.— Ed.] l Somewhat quaintly, but quite correctly, they described themselves as “of Worcester, with branches at London and Birmingham”. Theirs was an old-established firm, run prior to the 1860s by a Mr. Kinder. About this time Mr. McNaught came into partnership, to be joined later by a third partner, Thomas Lamb Smith. The firm then traded as Kinder, McNaught and Smith. The former and the latter gentlemen subsequently left the firm, whose title changed to that of McNaught & Co.

The firm undertook work of the highest quality, their speciality being the superb state coaches of the kind used by High Sheriffs who were obliged to provide a state coach to convey Judges to the Assizes. The Company had something like a dozen such state coaches available for hire by various High Sheriffs during their year in office, these coaches being sent all over the country as required. The Company also had a considerable reputation overseas, building coaches for many Indian princes, for example.

They turned to motor work early in the 20th century and their catalogue of c. 1904 illustrates designs for a Side-Light Motor Brougham, a Single Landaulette, a side-entrance Phaeton, a Roi-des-Belges, and a side-entrance Motor Omnibus.

Such was their reputation that when Le Duc d’Orleans, who lived at Wood Norton, Evesham, celebrated the marriage of Princess Louise of France to Prince Charles of Bourbon and Sicily at Wood Norton, McNaught & Co. were entrusted with the task of providing motor cars, more than fifty of them, to transport the many royal and titled guests as necessary during the time of the extensive celebrations. In recognition of their services at that time, they were appointed formally as coachbuilders to HRH Monseigneur le Duc d’Orleans. His Most Catholic Majesty the King of Spain also, together with his retinue, used cars supplied by McNaught & Co. during his stays in this country.

The firm ceased coachbuilding in 1934, but the diligent seeker after the baubles of motoring history may still find a plaque announcing “McNaught Place” off a Worcester side-street as some commemoration of the former existence in Worcester of this firm.

The Perrins family home, Davenham, Malvern, fortunately does still survive and is not in fact a hospital, but is a luxury home for the elderly, in which many of the Perrins family furnishings and treasures may still he found, and the magnificent gardens are still carefully tended. Alas, those Delaunay-Bellevilles and Sheffield-Simplexes no longer grace the drives.

On a lighter note, I have for long thought how Malvern, which Mr. Boddy finds so confusing, could so readily become the venue for a British version of the Monaco GP . . . it has everything, the winding hilly roads and, streets, long-legged climbs around the Malvern Hills, the scenery, the ample hotels . . . except the Mediterranean itself, if only British legalities would allow racing on the public roads; much more attractive than the Birmingham project!

To conclude, may I wish you the successful finding of many more chauffeurs to continue a long run of “Chauffeur’s Corner” . . . delightfully nostalgic!

Tenbury Wells A.B. DEMAUS